Blithe Spirit

The Blithe Spirit of the Kirkintilloch Players charmed my mother, my aunt, and myself from the first magical moment of seeing the lovely set. The traditional three-sided box of floor-to-ceiling flats revealed itself to be a box of tricks! But the furniture first caught our eye with its attention to period and detail. Of course there was a chaise-longue and a round table, for rapping and turning, but also several items of authentic Arts and Crafts furnishings as well a clever French window giving onto a flowery garden. The attention to detail continued in the careful costume of the careful maids and also of the funny flighty one, young Mhairi Dobbin’s Edith holding her own in her first production with the Adults, and in the beautiful changes of Lynne McDonough’s Ruth C. (the frosting really the icing on the cake) in the elegance of Myra Scott’s Mrs B. and in the floaty chiffon of Elaine Martin’s pallid but vivacious Elvira. As for Hilary Lynas’s hilarious Madam A., her eye-shadow perfectly matching her eyes gave the same startling effect as her walking wardrobe of Bohemian extravagance. The gentlemen’s costume was understated and correct and both Robert Benison’s Charles C. and Allan Cowan’s Dr B. looked perfectly at home in their very upper middle class role – the latter’s accent was especially good.

Excellent stage management and production were very much in evidence, by being invisible. Characters wandered around the well-stocked set at ease, always in clear sight of the audience. Lights and horns and bells and music happened where and when they should, and if they didn’t we were unaware of it. I soon stopped analysing and I got lost in the plot. I’d seen the film but I enjoyed this play much more. It’s the very human inconvenience of a former relationship to the current one that is at the heart of this play, based on the real-life experience of two women of Noël Coward’s acquaintance. The actor playing Ruth, who I found out had stepped in with only four weeks to learn her part due to a family emergency, balanced understandable peevishness with at the least the attempt to be charitable to the possessive poltergeist who had invaded her happy home. The actors playing  Elvira and Madame A. had the challenge to vary their main attitudes (of flirty floatiness and transcendental zaniness, respectively) with minor changes of mood. So they were in turn enthusiastic, charmed, despondent, inspired, exhausted. The actors playing Edith and the Bradmans did well to support and not overpower the story of the core four. My theatre companions felt the laurels must go to Robert Benison for remembering all those lines! In deed there was hardly a scene where he wasn’t present and if any ad-libbing went on, to us it appeared that the characters were simply flustered, with all the otherworldly weirdness, or thinking of how to respond. For me, I felt each actor played their part exceedingly well, the whole production team came together and it was more than alright on the night.

Blythe Spirit

(graphics: http://www.kirkintillochplayers.co.uk/productions)

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